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Eshkol Unwilling to Yield to Religious Party in Forming Coalition

November 30, 1965
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, who is in the process of forming a new coalition government to replace the present caretaker government was reported today to be threatening to form a coalition without the National Religious Party, unless the latter eases its persistent demands for stricter religious laws, particularly one regarding Sabbath observance.

A coalition without the participation of the religious group would be possible. Such a government would include representatives of the Mapai-Achdut Avoda alignment, plus Mapam and the Independent Liberal Party, giving Mr. Eshkol a total of 58 seats in the new Knesset (Parliament). Since there are 120 seats in the Knesset, such a line-up would make the government dependent on the four places held by the Mapai-affiliated bloc of Arab seats to obtain a majority.

According to reports in religious circles here, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, of Boston, has been urging the NRP to stiffen its position on behalf of more strict religious legislation. The Boston rabbi has reportedly advised his friends here that it would be better for the NRP to be in the opposition unless its pre-conditions were accepted by Mr. Eshkol.

Meanwhile, an important Knesset committee chairmanship seemed to have been agreed upon here today between Mapai and Achdut Avoda, the partners in the major political alignment. At a meeting of the two groups, it was reported, Mr. Eshkol had agreed to back Israel Galili, secretary-general of Achdut Avoda for the chairmanship of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee. He would replace David Hacohen, of Mapai, in that post.

Mordechai Namir was reelected today Mayor of Tel Aviv. He won the seat by a vote of 18 to 11 in the Municipal Council. His principal rival for the post was Mordechai Stern, representing Gahal, the alignment of the Herut and Liberal parties. In the final voting, however, Mr. Stern abstained. Mr. Namir is a member of the Mapai Party.

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